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Highly Sensitive People

April 24, 2018 - Stacey Sacco
My husband will back me up on this- I am not a romantic. At least not in the traditional sense. I love to get dressed up and go somewhere fancy. Candle-lit dinners are lovely. I like flowers just as much in a vase on my table as I do in my garden.

However, I have no interest in staring into someone’s eyes for an hour- give me my book back. While my husband will happily pay $10 for the World’s Best Love Songs download, I roll my eyes and blast some Imagine Dragons while cooking. The time and effort to be “romantic” is wasted on me.

I certainly have a lot of emotional volatility, but I am a driven, goal-oriented Type-A personality.I feel all the feels, but I will log a lot of introspective hours before I’m willing to discuss them. I’m not a huge cryer or one to make a scene.

So when I was recently listening to a podcast about “highly sensitive people,” I almost skipped it because that is certainly not me. But it did make me pay attention when they talked about kids being highly sensitive. I have had Justus evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder more than once. He is overwhelmed by sound before most people even register they are hearing something. His clothes must be “just right” or he won’t wear them. He needs lots of time to himself. After school you can find him in his room, elbow deep in Legos and exhausted from all the social interaction of a typical school day.

Iris is showing some of the signs associated with high sensitivity as well. Normal cartoon tension in age-appropriate TV causes her to go into a panic. Open cabinet doors drive her crazy and routine is her jam. While she was an easy-going baby, she has become a demanding toddler who can’t handle the smallest changes.

I read The Highly Sensitive Child to see all the ways I’ve damaged these kids by not recognizing their sensitivities. I started to see some of these traits in myself. Maybe I didn’t screw them up too much. I realized I can relate and can make the space they need most of the time to explore their emotions.

My husband insisted I would love Stranger Things along with the rest of the world. I hate it. I couldn’t watch it. I hate scary TV or medical dramas because it’s just too real to me. I’ve frequently been criticized on my opinion on immigration and refugees. But I just see someone’s child, someone who is doing the best with what they have and they know it’s not enough. I can imagine how that mama feels, not knowing if she can even save her own child’s life. I feel other people’s feelings. Chaos drives me crazy. I like having a plan and, mostly, sticking to it. I want to do things in what I feel is the “correct order.” I thought it was just an introvert trait, but I frequently need breaks from people. If bedtime is getting out of control, I have to shut myself in the bedroom alone for a few minutes to pull myself back together.

For a long time I mistook romantic or emotional for sensitive. My emotions are strong and way too often rule my life. There is no hiding my annoyance, anger, joy or despair. I can function through them, but they are pretty darn close to the surface. And just like my kids who display sensitivity in different way, so do I. With adult experience I can temper my reactions, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel deeply.


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