Highly Sensitive People need more self care than most. In this vlog I talk about Christine Miserandino’s 2003 essay, “The Spoon Theory” and how it applies to not only those with a physical illness but those who may are highly sensitive. It also applies to those with anxiety, depression or those who maybe just don’t have the energy they need to do it all due to whatever invisible illness may be happening.
I had a friend say to me, “Oh my god, I am so glad to hear you lose it, it makes me feel better to know you are a therapist and sometimes lose your cool.” Uhm, yes…I am human. I lose my mind, I curse, at times I do stupid stuff…this morning, half way through my morning, I realized I had my pants on backwards…they are yoga pants, do they really have a front and a back? The thing is, when you are sitting on this side of the couch, it is easy to appear like you have it all together and you are perfect. Spend twenty minutes with me though, and you will know that is far from how I see myself. Far from how I live my life.
I make mistakes. My kids drive me crazy. Sometimes, I yell and then have the Mommy guilt afterward. I forget to get my oil changed. I frequently lose my keys. Occasionally, I want to leave it all behind and go sit drinking some kind of fru-fru drink in Bora Bora. I am human. It is that humaneness that gives me compassion, kindness and understanding of my clients. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I have been on both sides of the couch, and well the therapist that just sits there, and does not show me their humanity, is not the one I want or need. I need to know that you are real…that you screw up. How do you expect me to be vulnerable with you, if I think that you are perfect? I hope that I can offer my clients the same. I hope that they can see my imperfections, and feel safe to be vulnerable…I mean that whole opening yourself up is hard enough…let alone to someone who can’t let you see them.
As I sit across the couch from you, there is no judgement. Why? Because I know you are learning. I know what if feels like to try to figure out your path, and to fall off of it. I screw up too. I want those in my life to offer me the same kind of positive regard I try and offer my clients. There are going to be times I am off base, run late, or am just struggling. There are times when I have had an argument with a loved one, and while I try to check it at the door, and be fully present for you, my thoughts may wander for a minute. I could try and hide it, but as my client, you will see I don’t hide my emotions well, and comment. I will own it, and refocus. There will be other times, that I see and feel your pain so deeply, that I will tear up with you. My focus so on that you will think I have read your mind. You see, I am not perfect. I see it in you, and you see it in me.
I often joke that perfection is like a unicorn, you can chase it all day, but even if you do catch it, it will end up being a goat. No one is perfect. However, I am perfectly imperfect. I own my imperfections. I try and make them better. I try and make healthy choices, and sometimes I royally mess things up. However, I learn. That is my gift to my clients. I learn and I am willing to share those experiences with you. I am willing to be real with you. In doing so, I create a safe place to witness your mistakes because I was fortunate enough to have someone along the line witness mine. They held me accountable with love, and now that I have done a good deal of healing, I can do the same for you. Hopefully, as we go through the process of healing, you are learning too. You will fall down, you will feel guilt, but in being your authentic self, you allow someone else to see you, which opens the door to healing wounds. That is the point of this whole exercise right? To learn, grow, change and find greater happiness? If we can embrace our humanity, and allow ourselves to love each other regardless…this thing we call life might just get a little easier.
As a Mom of two, I frequently meet other Mommas, and hope there is a connection. I mean, there really should be a connection…our kids are the same age, they go to the same school/camp/club, our values are similar, we end up at the same events and are Facebook friends…yet when we talk, there isn’t a vibe. This used to happen when I was dating too, the guy seemed great, he was sweet, caring, we seemed to have similar values, yet he maybe didn’t get my quirky humor or couldn’t relate to those deeper things that mattered to me. Most of us have experienced this on some level. That whole feeling of on paper we are a perfect match, in reality…well, quite frankly it is easier talking to a wall. Now I am friendly enough with these people, however, I often walk away confused…like, “huh, everything seemed right…what went wrong there?” On the other hand, I have met people that look so different from me, yet when we meet there is such a deep connection that it feels like we are picking up a friendship that we left off just yesterday. (Maybe we are, past lives anyone?) It was like when we met, we were updating each other on our lives, and then returning to a friendship that had always been. I had a friend that used to call these people “Old Sames”. I love that.
So how come some people are the wall and others are the old sames? How can some feel so off, and others feel so right? What I have discovered is that they are just not my type of crazy. Over the years, I have discovered I don’t think like most people. I take those surveys on personality type and always fall in the 10 percent range….that means the reality is I don’t think like 90 percent of the population. This means that even if everything looks like it should be a match, it won’t always be, because I am seeing things through odd color lenses. As a kid into my early 20’s, I always thought that there was something wrong with me. I mean, how could there be so many people out there that just seem so bizarre to me? However, as I have begun to embrace my difference…I realized that there is nothing wrong with me, it’s just my connection to others take a little more time to grow. When I do connect, those connections are usually long-term, deep and fulfilling in a way that makes it worth the wait.
So, why am I sharing this? Who cares? Well the reality is that all of us occasionally see through odd color lenses. All of us have met those people who seemed like they should be a good fit, yet the connection is not there. During times of transition, like graduating college, getting married, becoming a mom, getting a divorce, going into a career, empty nesting, becoming the matriarch or patriarch in your family or retiring….you are redefining who you are, and what your role of in life is. When in motion, you may find it difficult to connect to your old sames. You are growing as a person, as a soul, and those around you may not fit into your particular crazy…especially if you are the first or last in your peer group to meet these milestones. Often, when we are in a growth period, we want to meet others like us, that are experiencing similar things…yet because we are growing, we are not providing stable grounds to plant or grow the gardens of friendship. During those growth periods, it is hard to find old sames. However, it is also time when you really crave finding those that are like you, and each perceived rejection or lack of fit can feel like an affirmation that you are odd and alone. The thing is, is that you are growing, and growth can be difficult and lonely…knowing that it doesn’t last forever, and knowing that your old sames are out there, and you will find them, just as soon as you are on stable grounds again can be comforting.
When I am not connecting, I try to remember that all things need room to grow and that those I am supposed to be connecting with are also growing parallel. (I often visualize baby oaks in the forest, as a sprout they are so tiny, young and far apart. As they grow, the space between them appears smaller and their branches begin to touch.) For example, I met this women in my birthing class, by all means, we had a lot in common, but did not really connect. Fast forward, 5 years, another child and the births of our individual businesses later, and we were old sames. We felt like we had known each other for years, even though we could not remember for months where we originally met. When we finally made the connection, the question was “How did we take months of classes together, but not connect?” Our crazy at the time did not match. We had to go through more experiences that helped us grow to a point where we could begin to discover the similarities of our paths. The great thing now, is that months can go by, and while we may not talk due to our busy lives, we know we can pick up the phone, and connect heart to heart, exactly where we left off.
As you continue to grow, your old sames will appear. Trust that if you feel you are walking alone, that you are not truly alone…your old sames are walking the path next to you. They are just veiled by the fog of your own personal crazy. As the mists dissipates or their crazy begins to grow into yours, you will begin to reconnect with those that were there all the while.