Emotion and I are dear friends, connecting during both the darkest and most joyous of times. We have walked this path together and are familiar with the rhythm of life while feeling all the feels. As an ultra sensitive child and an INFJ born in the sign of Cancer, it has taken a lifetime to rectify how I see the world and how I feel about it. For you astrology buffs, add in a Jupiter trine Neptune in my birth chart, you get a sense of the emotional tides flowing within. Labeled as “sensitive” as a child, I struggled to feel less in my early years. Stifling back tears and shutting down rather than speaking my truth by sharing the tides battering my shores of solitude.
I buried an ocean of emotion behind walls meant to hold back the strongest of storms. In doing so, I believed I was stronger and better equipped to navigate what can be a very harsh world. A world in which sensitivity is viewed as a weakness, something that needs to be analyzed and in some cases treated as anxiety or depression. My experience thus far has left me disappointed with the discomfort shown by others when expressing feelings.
As this is my voice, I can only speak of personal experience. Knowing other sensitive souls over the years, It is comforting to know I am not alone. How wonderful to meet others who feel as deeply as I do and who read the emotion and energy of any space they inhabit. By finding others like me, the inner perfectionist was able to let go of self criticism and see the beauty of these gifts rather than something that needs to be fixed.
Recently, a number of difficult life events have forced me to consciously lower my internal walls thereby not allowing fear and anxiety to silence me. The first being grief. Losing someone close or supporting a loved one in the process of grieving takes huge emotional wells and is not for the faint of heart. Some face their grief wholeheartedly experiencing all the good, bad and ugly. Others, let grief eat away at them, unaware it can not be silenced for long. Grief will rear its ugly head in the most explosive of ways. It may take days, weeks or years. Swallowing sadness is a bitter pill and a recipe for turmoil on the road of healing.
Secondly, a major health crisis had me visiting a plethora of doctors over the course of a few months. In most cases, as I sat in sterile offices trying to explain frustration with my body and uncertainty for the future, I cried. Having no problem showing authentic emotion after a lifetime of training, I let the tears flow while explaining my disbelief of finding myself in this place after years of healthful living. Surprisingly, most of my doctors immediately considered depression was at play. The only one who did not was the trained mental health counselor who clearly saw a women letting the feelings of the moment flow. It is no wonder to me that we have a country over medicated when the very professionals patients trust with chronic illness are ill equipped to witness authentic emotion and uncomfortable with the prospect.
Midlife has made me a bit more defiant in these instances. I no longer feel like I have to apologize for letting my voice be heard or emotions to show. In fact, it is in moments such as these when empathy for others is necessary. Vulnerability requires great humility and loads of grace. Luckily, my partner is comfortable with feelings. He sits quietly and gently wipes my eyes knowing it will pass. Often I am sobbing as I try to say something difficult, knowing it must be said but overcome by the weight of it all. I have come to far to silence myself in the interest of other peoples comfort.
All this being said, other peoples feelings matter to me greatly and my intentions is never to hurt another. It has taken much practice to say the things needing to be said in a gentle way. I fall short over and over again, but get right back up to try again. We are all imperfect. The beauty of another lies in these very imperfections. An outburst may not be about me at all, rather an unexpected release of emotion necessary for healing. Saying a small prayer, I let it go even when my brain attempts to over analyze the interaction and try to fix it. There is no “fixing it” for another. They must do the work themselves by lowering their walls when they are ready.
I leave you with a quote by Maya Angelou.
She said, “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”